Why rural women are integral in the upcoming climate change negotiations

Sustainable coffee farming

Photo: Flickr, Nestlé

We know more and more about what our planet faces as climate change intensifies and greenhouse gas emissions lead us on a probably irreversible path of global warming and uncertain rainfall patterns, at least for the next four decades. As policymakers prepare for another round of climate change negotiations in December in Lima, Peru, they are no longer only discussing climate change prevention, or “mitigation.” It is imperative that we also turn our attention to “adaptation”; learning to adapt to climate change now is critical because climate change is affecting livelihoods, particularly in rural areas.

Growing evidence suggests that men and women experience climate change impacts differently and have different needs for adaptation. Thus, to respond effectively to people’s needs and leverage their strengths and contributions, we must pay close attention to gender-based differences and embed them into the design of climate change policies and programs.

In my recent research, we found that too many institutions responsible for leading adaptation efforts in developing countries have no way of tracking whether men and women experience and deal with climate change differently. For example, three-quarters of development agencies in Ethiopia do not collect, analyze, or report gender-disaggregated data. Collecting data only at the household level, they operate under the assumption that all household resources are shared equally, that all decisions are taken jointly, and that all household members benefit.

As we celebrate the UN International Day of Rural Women on October 15th, I want to emphasize why we need to specifically target rural women in our efforts to adapt to climate change.

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This blog was originally posted on IFPRI Blogs in observance of the UN International Day of Rural Women (October 15). 

Claudia Ringler is deputy director of IFPRI’s Environment and Production Technology Division and leader of the PIM's research cluster on water policy under the Natural Resource Property Regimes flagship. She is also basin theme leader in the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.